Licensing Requirements

Licensing Requirements in Beauty Schools

Discover what it takes to get your cosmetology license in your state. Each state has their own individual criteria for licensing someone for cosmetology.

A cosmetology license is a permission from a professional board that enables individuals to work in salons within their license state. So when you have graduated from beauty school, your next step will be getting your cosmetology license. Most states require beauty graduates to pass an exam and earn a license in order to practice the profession (by law, you must have a license to practice cosmetology in any state). On the amount of training that you must have, and on how your training and experience in one state can be applied toward a license in another state vary considerably.

To facilitate be licensed in the different areas of cosmetology, you must complete certain courses and a certain number of hours of study. For more information simply click on USA Beauty Schools (the information you find registered within each state is the latest data that About Beauty Schools Website had on file. Hours and minimum requirements are subject to change).

Licensing requirements

If you want to get a cosmetology license you must be met the following requirements:
  • Be at least 17 years of age.
  • Graduate from a school approved and licensed by the Department of Licensing with the minimum required state hours.
  • or
  • Successfully complete a state approved apprenticeship training program.
  • Pass the state-approved National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC) written and practical exams.
Here some examples of minimum required state hours:

Minimum required school hours
  • Cosmetologist - 1600 hours
  • Hair Stylist - 1000 hours
  • Manicurist - 600 hours
  • Esthetician - 600 hours
Minimum required apprenticeship program hours
  • Cosmetologist - 3000 hours
  • Hair Stylist - 2000 hours
  • Manicurist - 2000 hours
  • Esthetician - 2000 hours
Note. State Board of Cosmetology also may be able to give you information on licensing requirements you are interested. If this is not enough simply contact the Beauty School you are researching.

How to get your license

  • Complete an application form (no fee).
  • Provide proof you have passed the state-approved NIC national written and practical exams.
  • Mail your application, documents, and fee to Cosmetology Program Department of Licensing
  • After your application is reviewed and approved, you will receive information that explains the exam process in detail.
  • Schedule your exam after receiving confirmation of your application's approval. The exam must be scheduled within 60 days of the approval.
Note. An applicant who holds a cosmetology license in another field may get a cosmetology license in any state through endorsement or reciprocity.

License exams

Each state's Board of Cosmetology will manage a state cosmetology license exam. This license exam will diverge from state to state, but each will have a written portion and a practical portion where you make obvious both what you know and what you can do. The fee for the exam usually falls in the $80 to $125 range. There is an industry wide movement to regulate the written portion of the exam, so be sure to do your research and see how these changes may be affecting the laws and requirements in your state.

Your beauty school should be alert of the information that is included on the state cosmetology license exam to make sure they are teaching and training you on everything you need to know about cosmetology. Studying on your own can be useful as well because sometimes you aren't able to take the state cosmetology license exam immediately after finishing beauty school.

Once you've obtained your cosmetology license, you may need to renew it every few years through the state's Board of Cosmetology. However, as mentioned earlier, some states offer reciprocity, which means that they will accept your license from another state, so it is very important to keep up with your state's requirements on this.

For instance, in Massachusetts you must renovate your license every two years. The process is easy: the state board sends you a renewal application (which you fill in and return) six weeks before it is unpaid. You must also pay a fee for each renewal, it is generally a lower rate, (around $50 to $70 per renewal). Many cosmeticians find this an undersized cost to pay for a satisfying career that lets them express their stylistic creativity while giving customers fun new looks that they love.